# Can we say that living things have mechanical energy?

• knownot
In summary: Sorry if I am asking a silly question. I am a beginner in physics.In summary, the conversation discusses the concept of mechanical energy and its relation to potential energy and kinetic energy. The definition of mechanical energy as the sum of potential and kinetic energy is questioned, and it is concluded that all living things have mechanical energy due to their possession of potential energy, whether it be gravitational or chemical.
knownot
Hey guys!
I am thoroughly confused.Hope u can help me.
Can we say that living things have mechanical energy?
Is muscular energy also mechanical energy?
Can mechanical energy be equal to potential energy?If so, why is the definition "energy of a moving object is mechanical energy"?
If a person picks up the stone ,does the person and the stone have mechanical energy?

mechanical energy is just the sum of kinetic energy and potential energy.

Kinetic energy is associated with the actual movement (depending on your mass and how fast you go) and Potential energy is the stored energy in an object due to it's position, structure, composition...When you fall down, potential energy is converted into kientic energy and during the entire motion, their sum : ie the mechanical energy will remain constant

marlon

thank you marlon.
But I am still confused regarding the last part of my question.

Can mechanical energy be equal to potential energy?If so, why is the definition "energy of a moving object is mechanical energy"?
If a person picks up the stone ,does the person and the stone have mechanical energy?

That definition is incorrect, energy of a moving object is kinetic.
Think of it like this:

If you are in a position where you can POTENTIALLY move (just because you are there), then your mechanical energy is potential energy. It is PURELY potential as long as you are not moving.

KE = 1/2 mv^2, not moving means v = 0, and so KE = 0.

If you are in a position where you are MOVING and have absolutely NO potential energy (infinitely far from any sort of gravitational or magnetic/electric field - not possilbe) then your mechanical energy is purely kinetic.

Use my hints to answer the question you put forth. While you are holding a ball infront of you, is it moving? Can it move? These two questions should give you the answer.

You can also tell me the energy while you are lifting the ball from the ground, is it moving? Can it move?

I agree with whozum.An object doesn't necessarilly have to move for it to have mechanical energy. Even an apple hanging from a branch has mechanical energy that is potential energy.
And the rock that was picked up contains potential energy which is a form of mechanical enrgy.We can't consider that the man has mechanical energy if we consider that Earth is the base becase he is neither moving nor is ellevated.

As for muscular energy,that's chemical energy used by our conscient brain (usually) to do work...

Daniel.

Are you sure you've copied ""energy of a moving object is mechanical energy" correctly?

At http://www.glenbrook.k12.il.us/gbssci/phys/Class/energy/u5l1d.html
I found
"Mechanical energy is the energy which is possessed by an object due to its motion or its stored energy of position."

Notice the last phrase (my emphasis).

Last edited by a moderator:
I think that fallacious definition just wiped out one of the most important conservation laws in nonrelativistic mechanics...:roleyes:

Daniel.

Thank you all for the replies.
But do you think that Living things have mechanical energy since they have energy stored in them and hence the potential to do work.
If so then all living things have mechanical energy even when at rest

whozum,

when I lift a stone I use mechanical energy to lift it and since the stone moves , it also has mechanical energy.Am I right?

Everything has potential energy even when its at rest. Your statement makes sense. From reading Daniel and Ivy's posts, I would conclude that living things have mechanical energy; since we have potential energy and use kinetic energy every time we move.

knownot said:
whozum,

when I lift a stone I use mechanical energy to lift it and since the stone moves , it also has mechanical energy.Am I right?

No the stone has no mechanical energy. It is moving because you exerted your energy to move it. It did not move on its own. If you threw it then it would have mechanical energy. If you dropped it then it would have kinetic energy. You simply picking it up does not give it energy. It becomes a part of you so to speak in that you are holding it and making it move. It's not moving on its own. So its part of your system.You simply moving it doesn't give it energy. That would be pretty sketchy if some random rock sitting on the ground suddenly started bouncing on its own.

knownot said:
when I lift a stone I use mechanical energy to lift it and since the stone moves , it also has mechanical energy.Am I right?
When you lift the stone you add to its gravitational potential energy. If the stone moves, it also has kinetic energy. Either way, it has mechanical energy (which is just the sum of potential and kinetic energy).

Doc actually probably has the simplist answer of all of us. Why do we always have to make simple things so complicated?

Thank you all.

So basically all living things have mechanical energy since they have chemical potential energy stored in them!

knownot said:
So basically all living things have mechanical energy since they have chemical potential energy stored in them!
All things, living or not, have mechanical energy due to their having either (or both):
(1) potential energy due to their macroscopic position: this could be gravitational PE (due to height above the ground) or elastic PE (due to the stretching of a spring), or
(2) kinetic energy, due their having a speed.​
I would not include chemical potential energy as a form of mechanical energy. (The line between mechanical and non-mechanical energy is somewhat fuzzy and arbitrary, but useful in expressing certain conservation laws.)

Oh ! Doc Al!

Now I am confused.Why is chemical potential energy not a form of mechanical energy?

When I am standing am I not having mechanical energy since I have the potential energy(in the form of chemical pot. energy) in me which I can use to jump(then I have KE),play , dance walk etc.?

Mechanical Energy is the sumo f any kind of energy you have.
Kinetic energy is energy you have due to moving.
Potential energy is energy due to position or ability.

Chemical potential energy is just that, potential energy, in chemical form. Your body CAN cause the chemicals to react, producing some sort of motion (I guess).

knownot said:
Now I am confused.Why is chemical potential energy not a form of mechanical energy?
It's just a definition, admittedly imperfect. The label "mechanical" is meant to distinguish certain kinds of energy (see my last post) from other types (like chemical, nuclear, thermal, etc.).

When I am standing am I not having mechanical energy since I have the potential energy(in the form of chemical pot. energy) in me which I can use to jump(then I have KE),play , dance walk etc.?
It is certainly true that you can transform one type of energy (chemical energy) to another type (mechanical energy, for instance).

whozum said:
Mechanical Energy is the sumo f any kind of energy you have.
I'll have to disagree with you on that one. One's total energy is the sum of all the various types of energy you might have; mechanical energy is just a part of that.

## 1. Can living things possess mechanical energy?

Yes, living things can possess mechanical energy. Mechanical energy is the energy an object has due to its motion or position, and living things exhibit both of these qualities. For example, animals use mechanical energy to move and perform physical tasks, and plants use mechanical energy to grow and change position in response to their environment.

## 2. How do living things obtain mechanical energy?

Living things obtain mechanical energy in various ways. Animals and humans obtain mechanical energy through muscle contractions and movements, while plants obtain mechanical energy through the growth and expansion of their cells. In both cases, the energy is obtained from chemical reactions within the living organism.

## 3. Can mechanical energy be converted into other forms of energy in living things?

Yes, mechanical energy can be converted into other forms of energy in living things. For example, when an animal or human performs physical work, mechanical energy is converted into heat energy. Plants can also convert mechanical energy into chemical energy through the process of photosynthesis.

## 4. What role does mechanical energy play in the survival of living things?

Mechanical energy plays a vital role in the survival of living things. It is necessary for movement, which allows animals to hunt for food, escape predators, and reproduce. Mechanical energy is also essential for plants to grow, respond to changes in their environment, and reproduce.

## 5. Can mechanical energy be lost or gained in living things?

Yes, mechanical energy can be lost or gained in living things. When living things perform physical work, some mechanical energy is converted into other forms of energy, such as heat. However, living things can also gain mechanical energy through external sources, such as the sun's energy, which is converted into mechanical energy through photosynthesis in plants.

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